A New York judge on Friday set an Oct. 24 trial date for the criminal case against the Trump Organization and its former chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg, capping off an especially tumultuous week for former President Donald Trump.
Acting Justice Juan Merchan also denied a bid by the real estate company and Weisselberg to dismiss the charges against them, which they had argued were politically motivated. The judge ruled at a hearing in Lower Manhattan that the evidence presented to the grand jury “was legally sufficient to support the charges in the indictment,” and that those proceedings were properly conducted and their “integrity unimpaired.”
The judge did, however, dismiss one count against the company on statute of limitations grounds.
The Trump Organization and former longtime CFO Weisselberg were charged last year in what prosecutors said was a sweeping, 15-year scheme to compensate top executives of former Trump’s company “off the books” and help them avoid paying taxes.
The Trump Organization pleaded not guilty to charges that included tax fraud and falsifying business records, while Weisselberg, 74, pleaded not guilty to grand larceny and tax fraud charges, among others, after prosecutors accused him of personally avoiding taxes on $1.7 million of his income.
Prosecutors say it was an “orchestrated” scheme to compensate executives “off the books” to avoid taxes.
Trump and his company have claimed the charges are the result of a biased investigation led initially by then-Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance and now by his successor, Alvin Bragg, both Democrats.
Weisselberg’s attorney, Nicholas Gravante, said he was looking forward to fighting the charges in court.
“If there was a deal to be reached in this case, there has been plenty of time to do it,” Gravante said. “My mission now is to lead this trial team and win, and that’s what I intend to do.”
The hearing comes at the end of a wild week for Trump that began with FBI agents executing a search warrant at Trump’s Florida resort. The agents were hunting for sensitive documents Trump allegedly took with him from the White House in January 2021. Trump lawyer Christina Bobb said Tuesday that the warrant left by agents indicated they were investigating possible violations of laws dealing with the handling of classified material and the Presidential Records Act.
On Wednesday, Trump was deposed by lawyers from New York Attorney General Letitia James’ office as part of its civil probe into the Trump Organization’s business practices. A source familiar with the deposition told NBC News that the former president invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination almost 450 times.
On Thursday, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said his office had “probable cause” to execute the search warrant and moved to unseal the document as well as a redacted list of items FBI agents took from the property. Trump said on social media he would not oppose the release of the documents, which are expected to become public later Friday.
On Friday morning, Trump also denied a report in The Washington Post that FBI agents had been looking for classified documents related to nuclear weapons, calling it a “hoax” and suggesting the feds had planted evidence at his property.
Associated Press contributed.